Cooking With Maddie Newsletter #42

The Perfect Summer Caprese Salad

Hi friends! 

I hope everyone had an amazing 4th of July. I hope you’re burnt to a crisp from too many hours in the sun, bloated from all the beer you drank and maybe even a little nauseous thinking about eating another hot dog. Who am I kidding— no one could ever be sick of eating hot dogs. Not even Joey Chestnut.

I spent the long weekend at the freakin’ gorg Grand Lake where we watched sailboats race, played a ridiculous amount of rage cage and the only mandatory uniform was a cowboy hat. And yes, if you were wondering, there was a red-white-and-blue sequin one that I just somehow didn’t get a picture wearing but trust— it was elite.

Of course it’s not a 4th of July weekend without a major grill-out — my favorite. Did anyone make the potato salad or coleslaw? Pleaseeeee say yes. At our independence day shindig, we had all the fixins — burgers, brats, corn on the cob and oh so many chips. I mean, the only time my hand wasn’t in a bag of chips was when I was trying to master a magic trick, which btw, I now have down pat. 

Thankfully a big barbeque was the perfect excuse to force my friends to eat my new favorite dish — The Perfect Summer Caprese Salad — for yet another time this week. I’m not exaggerating when I say we’ve made this salad at least six times in the last two weeks. We’ve made it for big dinner celebrations, thrown it together for a quick lunch, and I even whipped it up for a midday snack. 

Proof of just how many times we’ve made this salad so far this summer, and it’s only July.

This salad is the epitome of why I love cooking in summer — it’s fresh, simple and comes together in the same amount of time it takes for you to grill your burger and buns. 

It’s so good that it’s honestly hard for me to pick a favorite part of the salad — a tell-tale sign that a dish is killer. There’s arugula (my favorite green), tomatoes, basil, peaches or nectarines and the creamiest of creamy cheeses — burrata. Maybe this salad is my favorite because it’s just a bowl of all my favorite things doused in olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper? Yeah, that’s definitely why. 

If you know what’s good for you, you’ll get to the grocery store and pick up all these ingredients so you too can enjoy this perfect summer sal before tomatoes are out of season, your basil plant dies or I buy all the burrata— which could easily happen.

Here’s what you’ll need — 

  • 5 oz arugula 

  • 3-4 peaches or nectarines, cut into slices or cubes 

  • 2-3 heirloom tomatoes, or one package of campari or cherry tomatoes — we’ve used all types of tomatoes in this recipe and they’re all equally delicious

  • 2 8-oz containers burrata 

  • Handful of basil, torn  

  • Salt and pepper 

  • Olive oil 

  • Balsamic glaze — like this one

Start by dressing the arugula with a few glugs of olive oil, a pinch of salt and a few cracks of fresh black pepper. Toss with your hands until the arugula is lightly coated. 

Cut your peaches or nectarines into slices or cubes, enjoying the bits around the pit as the *chef’s treat.* 

If you’re using heirloom tomatoes, cut them into large slices. If using something smaller, cut into wedges or in half. 

For the burrata, cut into pieces of similar size to the tomatoes, or keep whole and have a hay day dipping and dragging your tomatoes and peaches through the creamy goodness.

Either add everything to a large bowl and toss to combine, or plate it on a large serving platter, almost like it’s a charcuterie board, which is my favorite way to serve it. 

Scatter torn basil leaves on top, and sprinkle everything with salt and pepper, more olive oil and a big zig-zag of balsamic glaze. 

For what’s been giving me life these past few weeks, it was getting to spend a nice, long weekend in Austin with my closest girlfriends. Granted, it was hot as fuck and there was never a moment when we weren’t dripping in sweat, but we still made the most of it. We ate all the breakfast tacos, cruised around Lake Travis and drank way, way too much sauv blanc. Oh, and got ALL the snuggles from the cutest doggies in Austin— @waylon_and_june.

It was watching our cactus in the backyard bloom just like the tan huas in Crazy Rich Asians. It’s been firing up the grill every single damn night. It was making a new accent wall above my bedside table, and lastly, it’s been listening to every single song by Lake Street Drive. How do I see them in concert? It’s a need, not a want. 

Wish I was with you,